I have an anthropoligy degree, and you said it all more succinctly than I could have. Yes the Black Sea investigation is incredible. My degree is 15
years old, and I already feel obsolete . . .
As far as prehistoric civilizations go, it depends on what you're looking for. Most of the evidence we are leaving behind is actual impressive for
what I will call "scale" rather than "splendor." For instance, we are leaving great stratigraphic columns in our trash heaps. There's a trash
heap outside of every city, at least as large as the city. What a boon for future archaeologists.
On the other hand, trying to find fossils of Australopithecus (ancient predecessors of humans) is extremely difficult. The entire population may have
been only a 100,000 individuals at any one time. Without scale, there isn't much of a fossil record.
By "splendor," I am thinking of impressive monuments. Pyramids. Stonehenge. The great wall. Most skyscrapers wont stand with their steel beams
rusting, which will happen within 200 years. And the glass will shatter if not constantly maintained. Same for wooden houses. Cement slabs will
crack and decay in only a few hundred years, especially in acid rain.
our civ probably won't leave much behind if there is a near-extinction event. The biggest monuments we make, Interstate highway cloverleafs, will
collapse without maintainence in less than a hundred years.
Picture a near-extinction event. Say a mega-megaton detonation of Iran or N. Korea's experimental reactor, followed by a "china syndrome" where
the radioactive core superheats and melts through the earth's crust down until it hits the water table. The following explosion blows radioactive
water into the atmosphere, where jet streams carry the fallout globally.
Most wildlife and humans die. Picture, 10 years later, a global population of a million people. They survive by salvaging parts and weapons from the
remains of our civilization. Their descendants could get by for several centuries by pulling down old utility lines for their copper, melting down
old autos for steel, and burning asphalt for fuel. To survive, they scavenge, and thus systematically remove the most obvious evidence of their
But eventually, there are no more cars to melt down, no more power lines or barbed-wire fences to scrap. What then? Most of the metals are no longer
in mines; most of the fossil fuels that were easy to exploit were taken by us.
If this went on for thousands of years, I could see how almost all evidence of us could be erased. At least until our descendents re-discovered high
technology with which to seek out our remains: radar, deep-sea equip. etc.
Then, they'd find things analogous to the Mesopotamian battery, the Antikithera device, etc.
Suddenly, after disbelieving "ancient" myths of the Umurkins and their empire, they come face to face with evidence of an ancient civilization
superior even to their own . . .
Maybe they'd find the evidence in the Black Sea?
Dude. Like. Totally Planet-of-the-Apes.
I get to be Charleton Heston.